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Cold in July

Quebec Premiere
  • USA
  • 2014
  • 109 mins
  • DCP
  • English
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Official Selection, Sundance 2014
Official Selection, Director's Forthnight, Cannes 2014

“Gritty, grisly and perversely giddy... a hallucinogenic goulash of explosive masculinity” - Tirdad Derakhshani, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

COLD IN JULY is a tough, southern yarn about a family man who gazes into the abyss and finds it falls much deeper than he imagined. Michael C. Hall (DEXTER) plays the man in question, a comparatively weak father and husband in 1989 East Texas who shoots a home intruder and, in coping with the consequence, comes under fire from the dead man’s ex-con father. The two soon realize the circumstances are anything but cut-and-dried.

Watching COLD IN JULY, as the heart-pounding synth and grainy neon sweats all over the beer-soaked haze, grit and twang, it crystallizes into a slap in the head no-brainer that director Jim Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici would be a perfect match for the legendary writer Joe R. Lansdale. The three consistently straddle lines, from horror to crime, and as Mickle’s filmography progresses, it’s clear he’s the king of a certain genre of Americana. STAKE LAND put his own spin on an open road movie, while the mountainous gothic of WE ARE WHAT WE ARE reflected on the nature of American tradition and when to cut it off. COLD IN JULY considers all sides of American masculinity in an almost ’70s-cinema fashion, but thanks to Jeff Grace’s outstanding score, the atmosphere eventually goes Peckinpah-in-the-’80s.

Written by Mickle and Damici, from the novel by Lansdale, COLD IN JULY is in the grand traditions of hard-boiled and no-frills. The further it twists, the better and better it gets, putting Hall and the incredible Sam Shepard side by side. Their chemistry is something else, only amplified and truly note-perfect with the addition of Don Johnson, cast incredibly and with no sort of wink to the audience. Instead, Johnson brings lightness to the air as a pig farmer/private investigator and the three together lead an intense, masculine men-on-a-mission tale. Only, it’s a mission whose goal is only “to see how far this thing goes”, and ends up in grim confrontation.

— Samuel Zimmerman